Mérida, Yucatán, (April 28, 2020).- District Courts of the Federal Judicial Branch based in Campeche and Yucatán, respectively, have impeded the people and communities that are threatened by different actions and omissions of authorities the right to access to justice, in regard to the construction of the project called “Maya Train”.
On the subject, different associations such as the Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Forestry, the Assembly of Defenders of the Maya Territory “Múuch ‘Ximbal“, the Tres Colonias de Campeche Collective, Indignation- Promotion and defense of human rights and the Foundation for Due Process (DPLF ) made the following pronouncement.
“We denounce that on two different occasions access to justice has been hampered in urgent cases, which warns that the Federal Justice administration is not being effective in the framework of social distancing measures due to the SARS CoV2 pandemic ( COVID-19) ”says a statement from activists.
In the first case, on Friday, April 17, the Tres Colonias de Campeche Collective, made up of residents of the Camino Real, La Ermita and Santa Lucía neighborhoods in the city of Campeche, went to the District Courts based in their state capital to present an injunction against the process to evict them for inhabiting the tracks that would be used for the Maya Train project.
The authorities in charge of the project, in conjunction with UN-Habitat, have conducted censuses and interviews during the pandemic as the first phase of the eviction and relocation process. In addition, the settlers explained there is a total lack of information on where they would be relocated, and the lack of guarantees that they would not end up in a street situation.
Faced with this request, the staff of the First District Court of Campeche refused to receive the application for amparoinjunction, arguing orally that it was not an “urgent matter”, despite not having even read the application.
In other words, the complainants did not even receive an agreement to support the decision. Faced with this situation, on April 24th, a formal complaint was filed before the Collegiate Court of the Thirty-First Circuit, indicating the illegality of the action of the First Court.
In the second case, which occurred in Yucatan, members of the Mayan Assembly Muuch Ximbal filed an application for injunction against the agreement dated April 6th, 2020; issued by the Federal Government, through which they announced the continuation of the construction work of the Maya train despite the health emergency derived from Covid-19.
The signatories, representatives of various Maya communities in the state of Yucatan, indicated that it was urgent to admit the protection and order the suspension of works during the quarantine period due to the risk of contagion that the affected communities could have. At first, the duty personnel refused to receive the document, arguing orally and without reading it that “it was not urgent.”
Although the lawsuit, after much insistence, was finally received by the Fourth District Court of the state of Yucatan under file 513/2020, the Fourth Judge determined to postpone the admission and resolution of the injunction once “the health emergency has passed” by not consider it an emergency case.
That is, despite the fact that what was contested was an act in the context of the pandemic, the Court, in an incongruous attitude, postponed its analysis until the quarantine period ends, thus not only denying access to the justice to these communities, but left them at the mercy of an action that could imply an increase in cases of Covid-19 in the communities affected by the construction of the Maya Train.
Both in the Campeche and Yucatan cases, events that are currently occurring and that are related to the pandemic were demanded, but which are also urgent given the consequences that they have and could have for those who complain. Deciding that the affected people must wait until the end of the contingency to access the Courts is the same as canceling their constitutional right to access to justice.
By the time that moment arrives, the acts against which they seek to defend themselves, will already be consummated and will be impossible to repair.
Regardless of what happens in both cases after the presentation of the respective judicial appeals, the attitude of the judiciary bodies of the Federal Judicial Power towards these events is worrying, since it is evident that the Federal Government is taking advantage of the pandemic and the contingency situation and health risk to advance in the implementation of the Maya Train project, putting at risk the most basic human rights of the population such as housing, health and even life.
The pandemic is not an excuse for the suspension of constitutional rights, because in a democracy even during a health crisis like this it is necessary that the authorities adhere to the Constitution of the nation. The same applies to the megaprojects of the Executive Branch that affect people’s rights.
“The Judiciary can neither be ignorant nor condescending, but they must guarantee that what our Carta Magna says is fulfilled. Neglecting that role would imply giving the authorities of the other powers the authorization to do what they want and, in the specific case of the Maya Train, it could be interpreted as a submission to a project promoted by the executive, ”argue the activists who defend the Rights. Humans.
Faced with this situation, and while it is true that all institutions must take measures in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, we recall that the right of access to justice is one of the basic pillars of the democratic state of law, which must be guaranteed even in the most adverse contexts.
Consequently, the Federal Judicial Branch must continue to reinforce measures so as not to leave those people who, due to their extreme vulnerability, and the violation of their most basic human and legal rights.
For its part, we reiterate to the Federal Government the demand to suspend the construction works of the “Maya Train” as well as the process of eviction and relocation of people. Carrying out this type of activities taking advantage of the pandemic is dehumanizing the affected people, as well as the indigenous communities for the simple fact of not being condescending with the decisions that have been taken unilaterally by the Federal Executive Power on this so-called “megaproject”.The Yucatan